Electricity and Magnetism I (PHYS*2330)

Code and section: PHYS*2330*01

Term: Fall 2019

Instructor: Eric Poisson


Course Description

This course continues building the foundation in electricity and magnetism begun in the first year and is intended for students proceeding to advanced studies in the physical sciences. Topics include vector calculus, electric fields, potential, electric work and energy, Gauss’s Law, Poisson’s and Laplace’s equations, capacitors, D.C. circuits, transients and dielectric materials.



Tuesday and Thursday, 10:00am to 11:20am, MacKinnon (MCKN) 121


Wednesdays, 7:00pm to 8:50pm, Macdonald Stewart Hall (MACS) 121


Wednesday October 23, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, room TBA

Final Exam

Tuesday December 10, 8:30am. The room will be posted in due course.

Instructional Support

Instructor: Eric Poisson
Email: epoisson@uoguelph.ca
Extension: 53653
Office: MACN 452

Teaching Assistant: Michael Lahaye
Email: mlahaye@uoguelph.ca
Extension: 53840
Office: MACN 401

Teaching Assistant: Robin Coleman
Email: rcolem01@uoguelph.ca
Extension: 53840
Office: MACN 401

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a mastery of Coulomb’s law for the electric field, and apply it to systems of point charges as well as line, surface, and volume distributions of charges.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relation between electric field and potential, exploit the potential to solve a variety of problems, and relate it to the potential energy of a charge distribution.
  • Exploit alternative coordinate systems (cylindrical and spherical coordinates) to solve problems.
  • Apply Gauss’s law of electrostatics to solve a variety of problems.
  • Apply the tools of vector calculus, and demonstrate a working understanding of the divergence and curl of vector fields, as well as the divergence and curl integral theorems.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of electric dipoles and the role of molecular dipoles in the electrostatic response of dielectrics.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the behaviour of electric conductors.
  • Reformulate the laws of electrostatics in the form of Laplace’s or Poisson’s equations for the potential, and solve boundary-value problems.
  • Demonstrate a working understanding of capacitors.


The final mark for the course will be the highest of the two marks calculated under the following two schemes. No other marking schemes will be considered.

Scheme Quizzes Assignments Comp. Supp. Midterm Final
A 5% 15% 5% 35% 40%
B 5% 15% 5% 25% 50%

Quizzes will be posted on Courselink, each quiz appearing a few days prior to a specific deadline. Completion of these quizzes by the assigned deadline is mandatory, and the quizzes will be marked to provide 5% of the final mark.

A set of four homework assignments will also be made available on Courselink, to be returned before the assigned due date. A penalty will be applied to any late assignment, and no assignment will be accepted after the tutorial on the following Wednesday. Special arrangements for late submission must be made well ahead of time. Assignments provide 15% of the course’s final mark.

In addition to the homework assignments, there is also a set of three computational supplements that must be completed. These also will be made available on Courselink, and they must also be submitted before the assigned due date. The computational supplements provide 5% of the course’s final mark. 

In marking scheme A, the midterm and final exams account for 35% and 40% of the final mark, respectively. In marking scheme B, the midterm and final exams account for 25% and 50% of the final mark, respectively.
Both midterm and final exams will be closed-book exams, meaning that you will not be allowed to consult your notes nor any other source of information. You will, however, be provided with a formula sheet. The formula sheet, as well as practice exams, will be made available on CourseLink. Calculators may be required; only non-programmable pocket calculators are permitted. Personal communication or entertainment devices (such as smart phones or MP3 players) are not permitted during the exams.

Proposed Schedule

The following table provides a rough guide of the material covered during each week of the semester, as well as key information regarding quizzes, tutorials, and assignments. All dates are tentative; check Courselink regularly to get the most updated information. Regular attendance at lectures and tutorials is the best way to ensure that you are up to date on the relevant course material.

All assignments are due at 10am (the start of class).

A tutorial is held each Wednesday, from 7:00pm to 8:50pm, in Macdonald Stewart Hall (MACS) 121.

Week Material Covered Activity
Sept 5 Introduction  
Sept 10, 12 Electric field; line charge; gradient Quiz: Electric field
Quiz: Gradient
Sept 17, 19 Potential; line integrals Quiz: Potential
Sept 24, 26 Work and energy; polar, cylindrical, and spherical coordinates Quiz: Work
Quiz: Coordinates
Oct 1, 3 Coordinates (cont); potential and field calculations Quiz: Field and potential
Assign. #1: due Tues. Oct 1
Oct 8, 10 Potential and field calculations (cont); Gauss’s law Quiz: Gauss’s law
Comp. Supp. #1 due
Oct 17 Gauss’s law (cont); applications Assign. #2: due Tues. Oct 16
Oct 22, 24 Applications  (cont); divergence and curl Midterm: Wed. Oct 23, 7pm
Oct 29, 31 Equations of electrostatics; dipoles Quiz: Divergence and curl
Nov 5, 7 Dipoles (cont); dielectrics Quiz: Dipole
Assign. #3: due Tues. Nov 5
Nov 12, 14 Conductors; boundary value problems

Quiz: Laplace and Poisson equations
Comp. Supp. #2 due

Nov 19, 21 Method of images; capacitors Quiz: Capacitance
Assign. #4: due Tues. Nov 19
Nov 26, 28 Capacitors (cont) Comp. Supp. #3 due

Learning Resources

Required Resources

Introduction to Electrodynamics (Textbook)
David J. Griffiths, Introduction to Electrodynamics, Fourth edition (Pearson, 2013)

Recommended Resources

University Physics (Textbook)
H.D. Young and R.A. Freedman, University Physics, 13th edition (Pearson, 2012)

The book by Griffiths is the same book that is used in PHYS*2340 (Electricity and Magnetism II). My lectures will follow the relevant sections of the book, and reading assignments will be given each week to ensure that you keep up with the material. The quizzes will provide even more incentive to keep up with the reading. 

The book by Young and Freedman is appropriate at the first-year level; you may want to refer to it from time to time.


University Statements

Email Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. The grounds for Academic Consideration are detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Drop Date

Students will have until the last day of classes to drop courses without academic penalty. The deadline to drop two-semester courses will be the last day of classes in the second semester. This applies to all students (undergraduate, graduate and diploma) except for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Associate Diploma in Veterinary Technology (conventional and alternative delivery) students. The regulations and procedures for course registration are available in their respective Academic Calendars.

Copies of Out-of-class Assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.


The University promotes the full participation of students who experience disabilities in their academic programs. To that end, the provision of academic accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the student.

When accommodations are needed, the student is required to first register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Documentation to substantiate the existence of a disability is required; however, interim accommodations may be possible while that process is underway.

Accommodations are available for both permanent and temporary disabilities. It should be noted that common illnesses such as a cold or the flu do not constitute a disability.

Use of the SAS Exam Centre requires students to book their exams at least 7 days in advance and not later than the 40th Class Day.

For Guelph students, information can be found on the SAS website.

Academic Integrity

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity, and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community-faculty, staff, and students-to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff, and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that encourages academic integrity. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection.

Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

Recording of Materials

Presentations that are made in relation to course work - including lectures - cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a student, or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.


The Academic Calendars are the source of information about the University of Guelph’s procedures, policies, and regulations that apply to undergraduate, graduate, and diploma programs.


Please note:  This is a preliminary web course description. The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  An official course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester and/or posted on Courselink.